23 SES 05 B, Labour Market and Adult Learning
Parallel Paper Session
Theorisations of workplace learning often assume an optimistic and progressive hue. In part this arises from the recognition of what Livingstone (1999) refers to as the 'iceberg' of informal learning and its salience not only for workplace practices but also for its social justice implications. What is more, many social theorists (Adler, 2006; Adler and Heckscher, 2006; Engeström, 2010; Guile, 2010) argue that as a result of the shift towards knowledge based economies as well as working practices of 'leading edge' employers there is a movement towards social production. It is here that we encounter a range of terms which transcend the public private divide and address workplace learning and practices in both the 'capitalist' and public sector. Such relations are anticipated in the development of professional practices in educational institutions and elsewhere in the public sector. Terms such as co-construction, co-configuration, networks, 'co-opetition' to name but a few, are used to describe these putatively progressive practices (Nalebuff and Brandenburger, 1996). It is important to examine these argument as they directly address European concerns to enhance the development of knowledge based economies in which the pursuit of competitiveness and social cohesion are 'writ large' (EU, 2002). Although this European agenda is set within the global hegemony of neoliberalism, there remains some resonance with social democracy and the European social model (EU, 2002, 2010). On a more theoretical basis there is an articulation with arguments concerned with post-fordism and social production. In the early 1990's it was suggested that post-fordism would overcome the oppressions and exploitations embedded within fordist work relations. This argument has been extensively critiqued for its evasion of capitalist antagonisms and a failure to recognise the coexistence of different 'modes of production' within a particular society. In addition post-fordist work relations can easily fold over into neo-fordism (Brown and Lauder, 1992). Despite the strength of the critique of post-fordism there are nevertheless particular analytic currents in contemporary radical thought that assert that knowledge based economies hold within them not only progressive but also transformative possibilities. Such possibilities flow from developments in the forces of production and changes in the way in which surplus value is generated. These arguments tend to be located within what could be described as knowledge based economies, together with notions of expansive learning and the salience of creative industries. This paper interrogates such arguments for their policy, educational and social justice implications. It is suggested, as with earlier discussions of post-fordism, these recent conceptualisations are amenable to capitalist appropriation. In addition they ignore the manner in which capitalist strategies respond to the balance of power between labour and capital as well as the uneven development of the means of production. Such arguments seek to wed educational processes and informal workplace learning to capitalist imperatives.
Adler, P. (2006) From Labor process to activity theory, Sawchuk, P.H., Duarte, N., Elhammoumi, M. (eds) Critical perspectives on activity; explorations across education, work and everyday life, Adler, P., Heckscher, C. (2006) Towards collaborative community, in Heckscher, C., Adler, P. (eds) The firm as a collaborative community, Albert, M. (1993) Capitalism against Capitalism, Brown, P., Lauder, H. (eds) (1992) Education for Economic Survival: from Fordism to Post-Fordism, Engeström, Y. (2009) The future of activity theory, in Sannino, A., Daniels, H., Gutiérrez, K. (Eds) Learning and expanding with activity theory, Engeström, Y. (2010) From teams to knots: activity-theoretical studies of collaboration and learning at work, Engeström, Y. (2011) Activity theory and learning at work, in Malloch, M., Cairns, L., Evans, K., O’Connor, B. (Eds) The sage handbook of workplace learning, EU (2002) The Copenhagen Declaration, http://ec.europa.eu/education/pdf/doc125_en.pdf accessed 1st Jan 2012 EU (2010) The Bruges Communiqué http://ec.europa.eu/education/lifelong-learning-policy/doc/vocational/bruges_en.pdf accessed 1st Jan 2012 Gorz, A. (2010) The immaterial, Guile, D. (2010) Learning Challenge of the knowledge Economy, Livingstone, D. W. (1999) Exploring the icebergs of adult learning: findings of the first Canadian survey of informal learning practices, WALL Working Paper No.10, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto Livingstone, D. W., Mirchandani, K., Sawchuk, P. (eds) (2008) The future of lifelong learning and work, Marx, K. (1973) Grundrisse, Nalebuff, B., Brandenburger, A. (1996) Co-opetition, Sawchuk, P., Taylor, A. (eds) (2010) Challenging transitions in learning and work, Victor, B., Boynton, A. (1998) Invented here,
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